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Shadowrun is an action role-playing game for the Sega Genesis, never released for european or japanese systems (Sega Megadrive). Adapted from the cyberpunk role-playing game Shadowrun by FASA, developed by BlueSky Software and released in 1994. The game is the second in a Shadowrun series of video game adaptations and has a more open ended style of gameplay than its 1993 precursor, Shadowrun by Beam Software.
Shadowrun offers the player an open style of gameplay, where one controls the main character, Joshua, in third person perspective during both exploration and combat. Battles are real time, and although of varying difficulty, tend to be relatively short. Initially, the player is restricted to a single area of the game, but shortly gains access to almost all other areas. Access to other areas is accomplished primarily by taxi, although various restrictions and other modes of travel also exist, such as requiring a visa or bypassing the visa check with the use of a helicopter.
As in most role-playing video games, the characters' skills and attributes can be improved. However, Shadowrun uses a unique "Karma" system, which allows full character customization. Karma, roughly equivalent to experience, is earned for successfully completing a run, killing enough enemies, or advancing the game's plot. Karma is then spent on specific stats as determined by the player. To earn money and Karma, the player must participate in shadowruns, illegal jobs provided by pseudo-anonymous contractors who are, within the legal boundaries of their work, referred to simply as Mr. Johnsons. Mr. Johnsons usually are corporate liaisons who want their bosses' dirty work done without compromising them. All Mr. Johnsons work in backroom booths in different clubs and bars through the city. Depending on the Johnson, they will randomly offer different types of jobs such as raiding gang hangouts, search & retrieval, extractions, courier missions, ghoul hunting, or Matrix runs. Each mission will vary on the specifics to meet the requirements and location such as Megacorp headquarters or even the LoneStar's main building. Different Mr. Johnsons have varying levels of difficulty and pay for their jobs, which can be influenced by the player's negotiation statistic. (Note: In this game, the term “Mr. Johnson” is used where the word “fixer” would be used in the tabletop game. In the tabletop game, the player would know the handle of his fixer but the actual client would remain anonymous, hence “Mr. Johnson.” In this video game, the fixers are known both by their handles and “Mr. Johnson,” while also revealing the clients’ names to the player.)
At the start of the game, the player can choose for Joshua to be either a samurai, a decker, or a gator shaman. These only determine Joshua's beginning statistics and equipment; samurai begin focused on combat, deckers on use of the Matrix and electronics, and shamans on the use of magic. Over the course of the game, the player may choose to continue to focus on one particular skill or set of skills or branch out into other areas; however, only characters who choose to start as a shaman (and allied mages) can use magic and getting too many "cyberware" implants can reduce its effectiveness.
To help the player make things easier during hard shadowruns, Joshua can also recruit other characters to help him in his shadowruns. These are called shadowrunners, and can also be customized as Joshua can. The price of hiring a shadowrunner depends on the duration of the contract, as well as the runner's attitude toward the player. Shadowrunners can be hired for a single run or for a lifetime for ten times the price. The player can only directly control one character at a time; other characters (including Joshua) are controlled by the computer's AI. If the player completes the mission successfully and the shadowrunner was signed on for one job, they return to their location and can be hired back cheaper than before. If the squad is wiped out, however, the runner will be upset and charge more for their services.
The primary method of combat in Shadowrun is the use of firearms, although magic plays a significant role in combat in both an offensive and defensive capacity. Shadowrun keeps track of ammunition; if a character runs out they may have to resort to melee. The use of magic, on the other hand, is kept in check by damaging the player for casting high-level spells: the player can mitigate or even eliminate this through the use of items, or by reducing the success chance and/or power of the spell. While virtually useless when used by untrained, physically weak characters, with high skills and strength-boosting cyberware and implanted close-combat weapons (like spurs or hand razors), melee combat can be highly effective against most enemies all the way to the end of the game. Grenades are also available, though their effectiveness relative to other methods of combat is limited.
A variety of shops exist throughout the game, providing guns and modifications, cyberware, spells and spell upgrades, cyberdecks and utilities, and other miscellaneous items. In addition to the numerous shops in the game, the player can collect a variety of contacts who provide the player with information, services, or (frequently illegal) goods. Through these contacts Joshua late in the game can join either The Mafia or Yakuza. In Seattle, there are three local racial gangs that have well-defined territories: Halloweeners (humans of Redmond Barrens), Eye-Fivers (elves of Penumbra District) and Orks (orcs of Puyallup Barrens). The player can visit each of these gangs, and pay to speak with their leaders (or be asked to do so, depending on his reputation). There, Joshua can ask for protection from the gangs' random attacks, as well as for the phone number of their allegiance bosses. After Joshua's reputation has been highly upgraded, and after he obtains the numbers of these bosses, he can contact the Yakuza and Mafia, and pledge loyalty to either one of them himself, obtaining specific benefits and exclusive items and discounts. On the other hand, Lone Star, the ubiquitous private security force contracted by the government to provide police services, can not be contacted directly.
Shadowrun's story begins on January 31, 2058 in Seattle, United Canadian and American States. In the wilderness of the newly reclaimed Amerindian lands of the Salish-Shidhe, a small team of shadowrunners is brutally ambushed by unknown forces. The massacre is over quickly, but is captured in video by one of the slain member's cybereyes; the video is recovered and made national news. The last man to die in the video was a shadowrunner known as Michael, Joshua's brother.
Joshua spends his last nuyen and flies to Seattle, vowing to avenge his brother's death. He arrives at Sea-Tac Airport and traces back Michael's last credstick transaction to "Stoker's Coffin Motel", in the Redmond Barrens. Joshua travels there to inquire about his brother, only to be told by the owner that Michael never paid his bill and in fact has some belongings being held. He strikes a deal with Joshua, and by beginning to do small shadowruns for a small-time Mr. Johnson, called Gunderson, he gains enough money to pay his brother's bills. In Michael's belongings, he finds three "holopix": one of a young woman, Tabatha Shale; of an Amerindian, David Owlfeather, and of Seattle General Hospital Dr. Heaversheen. There is also a low grade cyberdeck, along with a credstick containing 500 nuyen, which could have been used to pay off Michael's bill (the irony of this is one of the game's many humorous points).
From there, the story divides into three branches that the player can go through in any order, either separately or at once. Each branch gives the answer to three main questions: who killed Michael, and under whose orders; what was Michael's last shadowrun; why was Michael killed. Because of the sandbox style of gameplay and the non-linear story, the entire mystery is not revealed until the three main branches are totally completed. Once they are, the plot slowly arises.